I was very saddened to read in The Courier on 9th March that 1/4 of Angus Council Staff and Angus Teachers who are off sick are, in fact, suffering with stress. Many of them will not be met with the understanding and sympathy they deserve, as Mental Health is poorly understood and there is a huge stigma attached to it.
Having been off work with stress myself last year, my heart goes out to all of them and hope that they are able to receive the support and treatment they desperately need. Personally, I was fortunate that I was getting great support from the magnificent Maggie’s Centre in Dundee, who have helped considerably in my recovery.
The figures published highlight the need to treat Mental Health on an equal footing with physical health. As the Lib Dem candidate for Angus in the upcoming election, I was delighted to see my party put Mental Health front and centre, adding it as one of our top five priorities on the front page of our manifesto.
However this is an issue that should cross all party political lines as Mental Health effects so many people across Angus and the rest of the country.
I have therefore written to my fellow candidates to politely request that we all agree on a simple set of commitments, if we are elected at the forthcoming election:
Challenge the stigma around Mental Health so that anyone effected by it feels able to come forward and seek support and treatment as early as possible.
Treat Mental Health on an equal footing with physical health, with maximum waiting time targets and additional funding for treatment.
Provide education at schools so that young people are better equipped to understand mental illness should they be effected by it.
If we can dramatically improve Mental Health treatment we can help sufferers to recover more quickly and, as a secondary benefit, help to improve Angus Council’s sickness rates.
Angus Liberal Democrats have launched a petition calling on the sale of so called Legal Highs to end immediately. Following the news that the Montrose Evape-o-lution shop has been broken into for a second time, concerns have been raised that dangerous drugs are finding their way onto our streets.
The petition calls on the owners of the shops in Montrose, Arbroath and across Tayside to stop selling Novel Psychoactive Substances with immediate effect.
There is no legitimate use of these products, which is why the UK Government has indicated that they will be banned in future. The owners should stop exploiting the vulnerable and stop selling them immediately.
With the Montrose shop is getting broken into repeatedly, these dangerous drugs are finding their way onto the streets and may lead to serious health issues for people living in Angus.
Lib Dem Montrose Cllr David May said,
“The shop was broken into twice today and this is at least the third time of being broken into. There is no doubt many of their products have been stolen. There are some very serious questions about security in the shop if the so called legal highs products can be removed so easily.”
“This is especially worrying as it is clear that the products so many of these types of shops sell are not safe and have led to deaths as well as real long term health problems for so many people.”
Angus Liberal Democrats have reacted angrily to news that the SNP Government has left £444 million unspent last year, despite closing key services across Angus and failing to invest in local infrastructure.
Accounts have emerged showing that the Scottish Government has underspent:
£92 million on Justice
£10 million on the Procurator Fiscal Service
£102 million on Infrastructure
A whopping £165 million on Education
Sanjay Samani and Cllr David May visit the Closed Police Counter in Montrose
Lib Dem Campaigner for Angus, Sanjay Samani said,
“The SNP have been steadily closing down services in Angus. They have closed Sheriff’s Courts, Police Counters, Noranside Prison and Angus College. They have failed to build a flyover at Laurencekirk that we desperately need to protect drivers. Yet in all these departments there was plenty of money left to be spent.”
“Meanwhile our SNP elected representatives, Mike Weir MP, Nigel Don MSP and Graeme Dey MSP, have done absolutely nothing to stop the closure of key Angus services by their SNP colleagues in Edinburgh. This has cost Angus jobs, made it harder for students to study, left Laurencekirk junction unsafe and had a negative impact on our local economy.”
“The SNP have blamed all the cuts on Angus services on Westminster, and yet they had close to half a billion pounds left to invest.”
Lib Dem Montrose Cllr David May said,
“As an ex-teacher and head master, I am appalled to see £165 million go unspent on Education. The merger of Angus College with Dundee and loss of hundreds of college places has had a huge impact on our young people, just trying to get on in life.”
“In Montrose we have a major issue with parking on double yellow lines that are not being policed due to SNP cuts, that they have blamed on Westminster, despite having £92 million left over.”
“Sanjay and I have backed Jill Fotheringham’s campaign for a flyover at Laurencekirk for many years. The news that on Infrastructure £102 million was left unspent will be a body blow for those desperate to see safety at the junction improved.”
Sanjay Samani concluded,
“We have an SNP MP and two SNP MSPs who have badly failed Angus residents. This year they will blame cuts on Westminster to gain votes at the General Election. Then we will see a big spending spree in the run up to Scottish Elections in 2016 and they will try to claim the credit.”
“The SNP need to stop playing politics and start investing in Angus.”
The owner of shops in Arbroath and Montrose has said that the campaign against the selling of Legal Highs has been successful and has forced him to reconsider. In addition, the Lib Dem led policy to make New Psychoactive Substances illegal in future will mean that he will no longer be able to sell the products legally.
Lib Dem campaigner for Angus, Sanjay Samani, a member of the Montrose Against Legal Highs Group said,
“Angus Lib Dems have fully supported the Montrose and Arbroath Against Legal Highs and we are delighted to see that their campaigns will be successful. Many parents have been concerned about the effects these Head shops are having on their children.”
“The Lib Dems have taken a grown up approach to tackling drug abuse with the realisation that the current War on Drugs is not working. As part of the UK Government, Lib Dem Ministers conducted research to show that Legal Highs should be banned, and that those suffering from drug dependence should be treated for their addiction, rather than treated as criminals.”
“We are the only party that are taking common sense, evidence led approach to tackling drug abuse and have a plan than can properly address the issue.”
Lib Dem Montrose Cllr David May said,
“I am delighted with the news that these shops will soon stop selling Legal Highs but they should stop selling them right now. They have been a blight on Montrose and Arbroath for several years. It is fantastic to see a grass roots campaign get wide spread backing from the community and be successful. Everyone who has backed the Montrose and Arbroath Against Legal Highs should be congratulated on their success and thanked for their hard work.”
“Too many of our residents of all ages, including many youngsters have suffered as a result of easy access to cheap drugs. We have to take a more grown up approach and help victims of drug abuse, by understanding what led them to drugs in the first place. We also need to stop an easy supply of cheap dangerous drugs. That is why I am delighted Lib Dem Government ministers have, despite Tory opposition, indicated that these drugs should be made illegal in future and proper treatment provided for those who have become addicted.”
Angus Liberal Democrats have reselected me to be their candidate for next year’s General Election. I have campaigned on behalf of Angus residents for many years and as candidate at the 2010 General Election and again at the 2011 Scottish Elections.
It is a real honour to be selected to represent the Angus Lib Dems again and I would like to thank the members for their continued support.
There has been a clear message from voters in every election since 2010. We are all fed up with the the same old politics, where our voices are not heard and we feel we cannot make a difference.
Angus voters made it very clear that we want to remain part of the UK at the Independence Referendum, but also that we want the way we do politics to change. All political parties are committed to further devolution to Scotland and, as a Lib Dem MP, I would work for Home Rule for Scotland.
But that does not go far enough.
Only the Lib Dems are both committed to changing politics and could also be in government to force through the changes we all need. Labour and the Tories have repeatedly blocked change. The SNP cannot and will not be part of the government. The Lib Dems gave you a say on voting change, but our plans for giving you real power to sack your MP, clean up money in politics and having an elected House of Lords have all been blocked, by hard right wing Tories and Labour – desperate to hold on to power.
With only 6 MPs, the SNP cannot make a difference and as they are determined to split our country apart, are not worried about how Westminster is run.
Only with a Scottish Lib Dem can people in Angus be confident that their MP is working for real change to make sure their voice is heard.
Montrose Lib Dem Cllr David May welcomed my selection, saying,
“Sanjay has backed keys campaigns in Angus and in particular the Montrose area. This includes better funding for flood prevention and coastal erosion across Angus and the need to back plans to develop the Harbour here in Montrose. He has backed small businesses, the need to reinstate traffic wardens and backed the need to ban Legal Highs.”
“Sanjay has also criticised the SNP for their huge cuts on college places, closure of our police counters and lack of action on a flyover at Laurencekirk. “
“Sanjay understands that all MPs should work hard on local issues for their constituents, but that they also need to drive through changes at Westminster so that our views are heard. All too often SNP MPs sit on their hands on Westminster issues because they are only worried about independence. Angus voters gave a huge majority for being part of the UK and they need an MP who can and will deliver more powers for Scotland and clean up politics at Westminster.”
Chair of the Angus & Mearns Lib Dems, Clive Sneddon said,
“Sanjay is a worthy candidate and I am delighted that he has agreed to represent the party again at the General Election. Sanjay has stood up for families working in Angus and the elderly. He will work hard to represent everyone in Angus at Westminster.”